These embroidered cushions, measuring about 20cm in width and decorated with beading and decoupage are known as Sweetheart Pincushions. Produced in World War One (1914-1918) mostly by wounded soldiers as they recovered in hospital, they were sent home to wives, mothers and loved ones as a token of affection across the miles.
Often featuring short mottos such as “Forget Me Not” and “Remember Me”, plus snippets of verse, these cushions act as a tender expression of remembrance and record a little piece of history. As you can see below, one cushion features a popular World War One poem that reads as follows:
When the golden sun is sinking,
And your mind from care is free.
When of others you are thinking,
Will you sometimes think of me.
Purchased as kits containing printed fabric, threads and beads – all the materials a soldier would need to hand craft a memento for his loved ones - Sweetheart Pincushions measure up to 20cm and were likely never used as pincushions but rather kept as treasured tokens of love.
Clearly a labour of love, I find the detail and mottos absolutely heart-breaking. Despite the terror, tragedy and fear that war threw at these brave soldiers, every one of these intricate, delicate little hand-crafted hearts tells a story that has such love and hope in every stitch.
Below: Details of a Sweetheart Pincushion produced by a soldier in the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry 51st+105th Foot.
It’s been hard to find much information on these cushions online, but if you are interested in further reading, Amazon stocks a book entitled 'Sweetheart and Mother Pilows' by Patricia Cummings on the subject.